It seems meaningless, and or, it may seem unimportant on the surface and maybe can be assumed that she's unfinished or unkept. I’m referring to a button that isn’t buttoned or zipper that isn’t zipped all the way on the back of a dress or blouse on a woman. Many of us ladies may or may not notice such a thing on someone else’s body, especially if it’s someone you don't personally know, and if you do see that a button isn’t buttoned or a zipper isn’t all the way zipped to the top, you may hesitate to bring attention to it. While, others may instinctively say something and offer to help a sista out.
From my widow’s heart and experience, I can recall many a day when I wasn’t able to fasten the button or zip the zipper to the top because of my own limitations of attempting to do so on myself. Attempt after attempt I would try to complete my look before heading out to pastor on a Sunday morning and failing to be able accomplish such a seemingly simple task. Mostly it was because the job needed someone else who wasn’t wearing the item to be able to do it. After several frustrating attempts to get the hook around the tiny button, or zip the zipper, I surrendered to my failed attempts and left the house undone.
Thank God for Jessica! Often, I would find beautiful Jessica and her family waiting for me at the front door of the church as I was delayed from arriving because I was attempting to fasten the button. Sometimes I would remember and immediately say Jessica, can you please button this button for me? Other times, upon arriving at the church I would completely forget that I was unbuttoned, until Jessica in her soft and reassuring voice would say, “Pastor, let me button this for you.” Grateful, I would eagerly tell her how much I appreciated her assistance to notice and help a sista out! And I don’t want to discredit the times that I left my house completely unaware that I didn’t button or zip my dress and Jessica wouldn’t say a word, but I could feel her buttoning me up. What kindness, what love, what loyalty and what servanthood.
The purpose of this blog is to bring awareness to the numerous women who couldn’t zip or button their own piece of clothing. Each situation has a story behind it. Mine was I was a widow, and I didn’t have a second set of hands that was able to help a sista out. Maybe it’s a single mama who didn’t have a child that was old enough to understand how to push the tiny button through the tiny whole. Maybe it was the working woman who was just so overwhelmed with other things vying for her attention that she didn’t notice there was even a button. And, then there’s the precious and beautiful elderly woman whose fingers don’t work the way they used to, and their flexibility doesn’t allow them to lift their arms to be able to accomplish the task.
Thanks for noticing. Noticing is caring and you may have just helped a sista out!
Figure it Out and Get Along
As a parent, maybe you can relate to this: you have been given beautiful, precious, and equally adorable children to love and nurture. Yet, the seemingly simple responsibility of these precious ones to get along with each other gets out of sorts, and instead of harmony and unity, they argue, they fight, they rant at each other, they pick on each other, and then proceed to tell you about it. I mean, you’re the parent so you can punish them, right? They believe that you hold the key to making the other one behave and stop the mess. But, at some point in the conflicts, the arguments, the tic for tac of your children against each other, you wonder why they can’t just get along? How hard can it be? They are siblings. Yet, each of them contribute to the conflict by verbally pointing out the things that the other is doing wrong, “He’s looking at me.” “She’s making a face at me.” “Tell him to stop it!” They cry uncontrollably, “Mom, he won’t stop!” While the instigator smirks by sticking out their tongue when you’re unaware. Get the picture? Awe, yes, the sibling rivalry season, always…in season.
As a parent, I think we have all been there and bought the shirt. Obviously, there is an ongoing rivalry between the children, which can breed frustration as a parent as you must witness their conflicts over and over. I mean, they are family, so what’s the problem?? They must be together because they live together, they’re related, and they will continue being in each other’s lives under the same roof, together! Why can’t they just get along??? Perhaps in your frustration you remind them by saying things like, “Come on, do we have to go through this again?” At some point, well, and probably at the point that you have reached your limit, you may scream, “Stop fighting! You guys have to figure it out and learn to get along!”
Fast forward to today, right now in time, our current world where there is severe civil unrest. People fighting to be heard, rioting to express their frustration and violence to express their disagreement with the injustices that keep occurring. Why should we be surprised that not getting along with one another seems to come more naturally than getting along with each other? Think about it, as children, we have learned to not get along with our siblings at home, or our friends at school. It’s been taught to us and almost engrained in us to be at odd with each other, so we shouldn’t be too surprised to see it continue into our adult years. It happened when we were children, until someone in authority, a parent or a teacher, or if you were in a close community, it was someone else’s mama who yelled, “Enough! Stop it, you all gotta learn to get along with each other!”
Can we just be real? It’s the enemy who makes himself famous amongst us by getting into our heads, through our emotions to find ways that divide us. Often, multiple ways, countless ways, big ways and small ways that point out our differences and justifies us defending ourselves with self-righteousness. In the heat of the moment, those evil plots always seem right and take precedence over the option of choosing to figure it out and get along.
The enemy’s tactics to steal, kill and destroy is old, but it still works effectively among humanity, so it continues strong. His divisive ways are often manifested through highlighting the differences between us. Even as children from the same family who share the same experiences and space, find reasons to have conflict instead of finding the commonalities of each other. The truth is we can't on our own figure it out how to get along with each other. We in of ourselves aren't able to effectively look past the differences that divide us. If we could, there would be no need for Jesus.
In the Bible, James 4:7-8, we read these words, “So then, surrender to God, stand up to the devil and resist him and he will flee in agony. Move your heart closer and closer to God, and he will come even closer to you. At the point of your choice to surrender to God and to resist the enemy, the enemy must flee from you. In his absence, you will have less and less of the reoccurring invitation to look for what divides you from others. And, as you draw closer and closer to God, you will find Him filling your heart with His love and compassion. Which allows us to find and focus on the similarities, the things that we have in common with others. That, coupled with an attitude of humility we will be in a position that allows us to be able to get along with each other!
Love, sweet love, is what the world needs.
P.S. You will never encounter anyone who God doesn’t love.
Yesterday, I saw a woman in the market adding up her grocery bill on her phone calculator. Every item she put in her cart, she added the price to her running tally. I realized that she may be way on top of her finances and she is super organized and sticks to a budget to maintain balance in her life. That's awesome (a bit jealous) :) or, she could be so tight on money that she doesn't have the option to just buy anything and is limited to the bare necessities.
I realized while watching her that God has kept me. There was a time in my life, that I was at the point of the second scenario. Not much money and just trying to feed a family on hardly any funds to do so. The provision of God is powerful.
What season in your life are you in? Can you enter a market and purchase food and pretty much anything you want or need without having to rob Peter to pay Paul? Or, are you on a shoe string budget because of limited funds and just trying to survive??
Without much notice from us, the seasons of life change. Seeing this lady in the market yesterday, reminded me in BIG, BOLD LETTERS that God has kept me. Without much notice from me, but through the prayers and cries of my heart, God brought me through a very hard and difficult season of lack to a season of sufficiency. Sometimes, you don't realize it until you don't have to struggle anymore.
God, You are faithful. You are awesome. God, You're my deliver. Thank you for providing for me when I don't even notice. All glory and honor to Your Holy Name.
God loves you and has an awesome plan for your life!
The Gospel of Jesus Christ is the good news that God restored our brokenness with wholeness through the birth, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. Christ came to transform lives. My life is counted as one of those transformations.
Transform - verb: to change, metamorphose. To undergo a change, appearance or character. ; become transformed. 2 Corinthians 7:14
Recently, I was asked how I became a pastor. It was a question I hadn't been asked before. It caused me to pause before I could really articulate the answer. That question has remained on my mind and I've begun a quest to find the answer. I mean, the direct, earth shattering answer that confirmed in me that serving as a pastor is what God had for me.
Ready for the answer??? My answer is, it found me. I can't say that at one particular moment in time, the earth stood still and God opened up the heavens with His voice of directive. It was more of a process of walking out life with Him. And through those experiences, He was drawing me closer to Him and transformation in my life and heart occurred.
From what God did for me and in me, I gained a desire to share with others the impact that God has had on my life. The times that He and I shared in despair and in joy, He has been outstanding. The result is a burning desire for all people to experience God in their own life and situations. To move from despair, depletion, defeat and deflation to victory!!!
How does transformation look in your life? What has God done that you want to shout it from the rooftops? Ephesians 4 makes it clear that there is one body and one spirit, but many working parts. So your call may not be to Pastor, but each of us has a call to testify, or tell others about the transforming work of Jesus Christ in our life.
May you be bold and courageous in telling your story of how God has transformed your life. My prayer for you is that God would fill your mouth to proclaim the truth of Jesus Christ every single day that there is breath in your body. In Jesus Name. Amen.
Loving a broken man costs. It can cost you your entire being. Not because you want to pay that price, it just happens without much notice and certainly with no intention. A broken man will drain you, depleted you but mostly loving a broken man will assassinate your worth.
You see the enemy of your soul knows that you will exhaust yourself in your attempt to love this man that is so broken from his past.
The enemy knows you are faithful, loyal and your heart is compassionate, so he will allow this man to throw you a crumb of hope every so often. Just at the right time, you know, the time you realize you can't do this anymore. That little crumb has a big price attached to it when you take it. That crumb lures you back into the sick cycle of brokenness which brings more disappointments and doubts.
How can you tell if a man is broken? The obvious signs are often denied so look for the not so obvious ones.
He is emotionally unavailable.
His words don't show up in his actions and decisions.
He says he wants to be a better man, but there's a greater broken part of him that won't allow him to follow through in his want to's.
He's inconsistent. You're not sure of his intentions toward you or your placement in his life. Brokenness is now screaming at you. Can you hear it? And if you do, why don't you accept it?
A broken man will not be able to ever give you what you want, need or desire. Stop justifying him and call it as it is, it's brokenness.
The assignment of loving a broken man is to lie to you. The lie that you will never meet a man that is whole and not broken. The lie is that you will never be loved by anyone other than a broken man. The lie that no whole man will ever find you, let alone accept you and embrace a life with you. The lie is that you can never be a whole man's chosen one.
Here's the choice, stay with a broken man and pay the price or cut the bond between the two of you and close the door. Walk away knowing you tried, you gave, you wanted but only God can put a broken man back together again. A broken man can only leave a trail of heartache and illegitimate feelings behind him.
He's broken, don't allow it to break you.
The Lord will work out his plans for my life--
for your faithful love, O Lord, endures forever.
Don’t abandon me, for you made me.
If you know Jesus, you know Jesus is the answer. But, just because you know the answer, doesn't mean that you know the strategy to convey the answer.
So it is with faith...sharing your faith can be a bit awkward at times and often we go about it in a less than becoming way and end up with everyone involved being frustrated. But through the gift of the Holy Spirit and a relationship with Jesus, we can show love and in doing so, we are showing that Jesus is the answer. Only Jesus can help rescue people, but we can be great connectors to Him.
We who know Jesus also understand that we’re not stable enough to love and accept people on our own. We simply aren’t quipped to unconditionally respect and honor someone who is so vehemently different form us. And truthfully speaking, we will never reach a point of maturity in of ourselves to unconditionally extend mercy and grace to people.
I think by default, we use the less than best strategy in getting our answer, Jesus, to world. There are countless precious people that aren’t in a relationship with Jesus and still continue to be perplexed and burdened by their own sinful humanity.
The best strategy to gain people's respect and attention is to be present in their life and situations and to be a light. Only when we represent the principles and characteristics of who Jesus is, will people want to come to the truth of Jesus Christ.
When we get to know a person first, a relationship forms and through that relationship, can the process of coming to Jesus begin in their heart. And let’s be real, who’s gonna pass up an offer that is so amazingly right and good in their life once they see it and once they experience it? But they must experience Jesus first. So, therefore we must live, love and serve like Jesus, so that those who don’t know Jesus will want to know Him.
Telling people that Jesus is the answer is good, but being Jesus to people is a better way for them to want to know that Jesus is the answer.
Here’s something to consider:
The new thoughts, the random thoughts, perhaps every experience and every encounter is aiding you to your greater purpose. Start by giving yourself permission to change. Then allow yourself to be receptive to receive paradigm shifts in your thinking and the way you see things.
Often times, you may want to excuse something as a trend or a fleeting thing that will pass and you don't give it any attention because it won't have any lasting effect on you. But what if…What if....God is exposing you to this to help you grow? To help you grow into your greater purpose that He has for you!
May your curiosity be poked enough to find out what it is that God is leading you to. May you be prompted to discover what God’s greater purpose is for your life. May you search relentlessly to know the essence of who you are. God has not designed you by happenstance. He put crazy detail into you. Every quirk, inkling, preference and detail is radically designed by God. Some of those things will fluctuate and be circumstantial; and some will not. All are the elements that make you, you.
Have you ever said, “If it had not been for that person, experience or exposure, I would have never known.” Right! God’s best often comes through exposure, experience or people. So be open, be available to accept the opportunity to learn and give yourself grace to grow and change. You are amazing! God made you that way, invest in yourself to discover your greater purpose.
God is with you and through Him, all things are possible!
Greater is ahead, Julie
Remind me Lord, what the gift of love is. My heart has forgotten and my mind refuses to recall it. The love that is pure, the love that brings comfort and brings affirmation. Show me the love that brings a smile to my face and brings a leap in my step.
The gift of love that reflects the love that you have for me. Remind me Lord, what the gift of love is.
Father show me what the gift of love is. For surely I have forgotten.
But You, Father are love. Your love is perfect and perfect love casts out all fear. Love covers a whole lot of stuff. Show me Father, what the gift of love is. Such a BIG gift that often comes in such small packages and ways. The gift of Jesus is the love of Jesus.
Thank you Father for the gift of Jesus, that I am able to see love in His selfless sacrifice and know love through His compassion that drew and included everyone. No one was ever outside of the love of Jesus, not then and not now...and not ever! Let me see Jesus and in seeing Jesus, I see the gift of love Father.
There are situations in my life that frustrate me, perplex me and I simply can’t conceive the why of them. With my best efforts and well laid plans, I attempt to manipulate my life to make it work. It leaves me feeling like a failure. I’m convinced that’s exactly what the enemy wants me to feel like. The world’s philosophy is to keep trying, never give up and don’t give in. Which has some validity; but the Bible truth is to remain humble, giving up isn’t necessarily giving in, it simply means submitting to God’s will and way and not mine.
I find at the basis of my frustration is self will. I want what I want because my want makes sense. I know that my life will be better if only I could get what my desire is. It’s at that point that I either keep fighting for something that God apparently doesn’t have for me, and I remain frustrated. Or, I can submit my will to God’s will and accept that what I want is not what He has for me.
It reads easier, than it is to actually do it. It’s hard to embrace disappointment of your flesh and desire, so often I continue to plead my case before God telling Him why He should do what I want and that He should provide me with my plan.
Only through prayer, can I submit my agenda to His. Only as I render to Him, my idolatrous desires, can I receive His plan. Only in faith, can I believe that better is ahead as I get out of the way.
After, all God knows more than me, so I must begin the painful process of letting go…letting go of my expected outcomes. I then, ask God to show me that His ways are better than mine, He knows my future, He knows my hopes and dreams. And after I let go, I ask Him to help me to accept and embrace His plan because His plan is always better.
It’s my birth—day! It’s my birthday!
It’s been a mixed bag of emotions leading up to this day. Gotta be honest with you….on one hand I’m very grateful; actually humbled at the care and concern that this Big Holy, Majestic God has toward me to keep me and on the other hand, I’m almost in disbelief that I am now 51 years old! YIKES…age is just a number right?
Typically, I write to encourage you, to strengthen you and to prompt you to trust God and this blog is no different; but I intent to be more transparent than normal, as well. Perhaps, I pray you will find a word, a thought or principle that will inspire and encourage you.
I decided to do a collage of pics of me as my birthday gift to me from me. I wrestled with the thought at first, and even now, that it may be perceived differently than my intention; but I did it anyway, I wanted to and it’s my gift to me that I wanted to share with others. And with every pic that I put together; I looked at my face at different ages and stages of my life. I looked deep into the pic that was looking back at me. Humbled. Accepting that I am a miracle! A miracle because I lived, my mom choose to keep me against all odds, including her own. I was her third baby and I too came with no evidence of any father anywhere in her life. She had 3 illegitimate children. I hate that word; its definition is almost a curse. It’s the opposite of legitimate; which is accepted and authorized. But, I use it to confirm and support mine and my sibling’s existence. Her children were born in the 50’s & 60’s in a small, predominately white community in South Dakota. She was a minority woman with minimal education and on a misguided quest to find love. I can’t judge; God knows I’ve done that most of my life and it’s fruitless and hurtful.
I don’t know much, if anything factual about the man who my mother was with when I was conceived. And my heart breaks now that I’m a woman with children to think about the fear, pain, regret, anger and every other emotion that my mother must have lived with for 9 months as her belly grew with me.
A friend, a young woman who loves God told me about this Youtube video that ministered to her. I have been listening and soaking: here’s part of what God is saying: “Gods heart toward you is beyond fantasy. Logic cannot comprehend God’s love toward you. God desires to fulfill His plan in your life. God delights in your life. He rejoices in walking hand in hand with you through your life, that you may be full of thanksgiving and gratitude. And that you will see yourself as God sees you. And that you would rejoice in the splendor of His foundation in your life and you will know who you are in Him as He proclaims your identity fully.”
WOW! That “you” is you and it’s me and it’s for every beautiful creation that He created in human life. I am yet attempting to understand the totality of God’s love in my life and toward me. The mistakes, wrong turns and disappoints will attempt to sabotage my realization of His love, but I am desperately trying to believe that God’s love is beyond anything and everything that I could know or do.
So today, 51 years after my first breath, my choice to be grateful is more real than ever. It’s not vanity to love yourself. It’s not pride to delight in yourself and when you think those thoughts, it is not from God and it will do exactly what the enemy intended it to do…tear you down and underestimate your worth...my worth.
Look at that beautiful baby in the picture collage that I made, as she grew up, she too desired to find worth and love and acceptance…happiness. I took wrong turns and went through some dark valley’s, but God knew that, even when I was unaware.
I officiated my mother’s Memorial Service this past June and so today I don’t have the opportunity to celebrate my birth day with her. To call her and share in her story of my life, as I said, it’s a mixed bag of emotions today. My mother and I didn’t have a healthy relationship, and I never felt compelled to call her or reach out to her to celebrate my birth day with her. I never felt led to acknowledge the trials that came along with my birth with my mom, or to tell her thanks, thanks for life. I could be regretful, but instead, I will be grateful. Grateful that she endured beyond herself and gave birth to me!
That’s part of my story, thanks for reading it. I encourage you to study your story, tell your story! It’s therapeutic and enlightening to look closely at your pictures. Study them and remember the times of your life, and perhaps you will find the faithfulness of God and also see the strength that you have, that brought you to this point in time.
It’s my birth-day…it’s my birthday!